I consider Makura one of our national interests. For that reason, I try not to monopolize it but protect it and spread the excellence of it to the world.
As I have written about in this blog so far, I have traveled more than 15 countries to see the market past 3 years. What I found was not only our product but "Makura" in general is completely different from the typical "Pillow" in the world. "Makura" is manufactured highly committed to how you sleep. It is subtle and beautiful. On top of that, it has more than 1000 years of historical background.
This fact made me think that "Makura" cannot be regarded as "Pillow" instantly. I got highly motivated to promote it abroad as one of our culture. This is why I decided to obtain the trade mark for "Makura".
I would like to start 2017 by unraveling the story of it. First, the definition of "Pillow" is "a cloth bag with soft material that you put your head on when you are sleeping". "Soft material" implies that the stuffing should be soft.
Besides that, the translation for "Pillow" in other languages are Cuscino(Italian), Kissen(German),and Kussen(Netherlands). All of these words spell quite close to "Cushion". Then the definition of "Cushion" is "a cloth bag filled with soft materials that you put on a chair or the floor to make it more comfortable". So, that means the two are mostly the same and the cushion used in bed is called "Pillow". I could say the word "pillow" came from "Cushion used in bed". That would explain the use of it like squishing and leaning on.
As in furniture stores and brochures in western countries, they have the custom to make the bed. They try to make their room exquisite and change sheets depending on seasons and simply the mood. This could be traced to the fact that the bed is usually be there all the time being the main decorative furniture in the room. From other perspective, if it's not decorated, it won't fit the life style and could be witnessed by visitors. This is what I think why they enjoy making the bed.
On the other hand, how is "Makura" treated in Japan?
In history, we had "Kukuri Makura" which is small cylindrical bag stuffed with buckwheat or tea leaves. We also had kapok and cotton materials but not necessarily soft.
Moreover, We have "Futon" culture. "Futon" is usually placed in the closet when it's not in use and put out when we sleep.
As mentioned below, it won't be caught in sight anyone and simply for sleeping well. (Paradoxically, it is said that it is made intentionally not to sleep well to be always prepared in civil war era. Either way the main purpose is to sleep.)
In past days,"Makura" had tiny drawer to keep valuables but it is for strictly security reasons to prevent burglary. The primal purpose has always been to sleep.
Furthermore, Japanese and "Makura" has strong connection. We have many words and idioms using the word "Makura" . And it often appears in ancient literature. There are various theories but the word "Makura" is derived from "Ta-ma-ku-ra" originally came from "Tamashii no Kura" which means the storehouse of soul.
We dream while asleep. It is said that we come and go between this life and the life after death when dreaming. Dreaming was considered to be a very noble action. China and Korea also have the similar belief. The case of soul is treated very preciously and they even have ceramic "Makura" with gorgeous decoration. This is a significant difference between Eastern and Western culture.
Considering all these historical and cultural differences, "Makura" and "Pillow" are close but not the same at all.
As Hisha goes into enemy's camp, and it becomes Dragon in Shogi, Cushion was brought into bedroom, and it became pillow. But "Makura" has always been "Makura" just like Osho.(This not about good or bad.)
I am more than willing to promote "Makura" as our uniquely developed culture and deliver the good sleep to people abroad as many as possible.
"Makura" has existed with great amount of attention to sleep for a long time. "Makura no soshi" is translated as pillow book. Not many foreign people would understand the true meaning of this book with this title.(There are various theories about the true meaning.)
Fujiyama,Geisha,Sushi,Futon,Karaoke,Bento,Kawaii and so on...There must be the day that "Makura" joins these universal words in the future. I hope this year would be the very beginning of my great journey with "Makura".
CEO Keisuke Kitamura